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Myths About Diabetes
Diabetes is one of those conditions that just about everyone has heard of, but most people know very little about. Many people believe all sorts of myths about diabetes, which can make diagnosing and controlling the condition difficult.
Myth 1: You'll Know If You Develop Diabetes Because You'll Feel Different
Actually many people live with pre-diabetes or diabetes for a long time without developing obvious symptoms that might prompt them to consult a doctor.
For instance, it’s a commonly held belief that all diabetics lose weight as the condition takes hold — but I know from personal experience that this is not always the case.
Some symptoms that undiagnosed diabetics frequently miss as pointers include extreme tiredness, which might be falsely attributed to a busy life or stress, slow healing cuts and wounds, and regular yeast infections. Some people develop blurred vision or tingling or numb feet or toes — all of these signs could be down to higher than average blood glucose levels.
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Myth 2: Diabetics Cannot Eat Sweets Like Cake and Cookies
One of the biggest rip-offs on the shelves of grocery stores, health food shops and drug stores is special food for diabetics.
Nutritionists who specialize in advising diabetic patients will tell you that absolutely no food is off-limits, as long as sensible decisions are taken about how much and how often “naughty” foods are consumed.
So a piece of cake or a glass of wine on your birthday, at a party or as an occasional treat is fine, but a daily cup of sugary tea with a side order of cookies is not.
There really is no need for so-called diabetic jams, jellies and preserves. It’s fine to eat homemade or “normal” store-bought jams as long as you don’t smear everything with a thick layer of it. The same applies to chocolate and cookies — everything in moderation.
It is wise to substitute sugar for sweeteners, especially if you enjoy sodas, or other sweet beverages, but beware of consuming too many sugar substitutes in one day as you may end up with an upset stomach.
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Myth 3: Only Obese People Develop Type 2 Diabetes
There are a lot of obese people out there who don’t have diabetes and a lot of slim people who do who can testify that this is a myth. Of course the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases in overweight and obese people, but it is by no means the only cause of the condition.
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Myth 4: People With Diabetes Are More Likely to Get Colds or Flu
Another myth. Although many healthcare providers would recommend that those with diabetes get an annual flu vaccination, this is not because they are more likely to catch it.
The issue is that blood glucose levels are often affected by illness and people with diabetes are more likely to be more seriously ill with flu and more likely to develop complications that could be life threatening.
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Myth 5: Type 2 Diabetes Is a Mild Version of Type 1
No diabetes is mild if not properly controlled. Even those who manage their condition with diet and exercise and no prescribed medication need to be vigilant and try their best to keep their blood glucose within the recommended range.
It is vital that people with any form of diabetes keep any appointments with any of the healthcare professionals involved in management of their condition which could include eye checks, blood tests, foot care and nutrition advice.
Failing to tackle blood glucose issues can lead to cardiac problems, stroke, amputation or even death, none of which are mild problems!
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Myth 6: Diabetics Are Dangerous Drivers
It is true that a driver who suffers from hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) while on the road could be dangerous, as drowsiness or loss of consciousness could obviously cause an accident.
Luckily very few people with diabetes experience unexpected hypos and most drivers with diabetes take care to avoid a hypo, or avoid driving when they suspect they are at risk of hypoglycaemia. A diabetic driver can lose their licence if they suffer regular low blood sugar episodes.
As for the risk of hypoglycaemia caused by incorrectly administration of insulin, statistics show that significant accidents attributed to hypoglycaemia affect less 0.2% of drivers who use insulin to control their blood sugar.
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Myth 7: You Can't Exercise or Play Sports If You Have Diabetes
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, five-time Olympic medal winning rower Sir Steve Redgrave, Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Mark Lowe, and a whole long list of other famous and successful sports people would strongly disagree with this statement.
It is possible to exercise or play any sport as long as you take advice from your diabetes healthcare team on how to adjust your diet or medication to cope with extra energy expended during your exercise regime.
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Myth 8: Having Diabetes Means You Will Die Sooner
Although it’s true that all forms of diabetes are serious and those who fail to keep good control of their blood glucose could develop serious and life-threatening conditions, a diagnosis of diabetes is not a death sentence.
Eating a healthy, varied and balanced diet that keeps blood sugars stable and within recommended guidelines, as well as exercising, keeping any healthcare appointments and taking any medications you have been prescribed will all help you live a long and happy life.